Office Design

The biggest breaches of office etiquette

David Spence
August 20th, 2013

Productivity is something that drives every facilities manager’s decision-making process; however, productivity is not an FM’s responsibility alone.

Office workers play a part, too—specifically in the way they behave. The most creative office layout won’t do much good if frustration from bad office etiquette underlies their work environment.

To prevent this from happening, see if any of these common bad habits plague your office.

Breakroom offences

The breakroom and kitchen areas can be a common source of frustration for workers. Maybe it’s the fact that workers are only there for a very short period each day; maybe the joy of their lunch makes them forget that the break room is not a restaurant.

Whatever the reason, there are a few things that workers should keep in mind:

  • If you have a lunch that needs heating, cover up your food to prevent the mess caused by popping
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink; wash them as soon as you’re done with them.
  • Don’t leave your lunch in the fridge for days on end, especially if it’s a large item like a pizza box; removing your items from the fridge will make it much easier on whoever is responsible for cleaning it

coffee break

Cubicle missteps

These rules could actually apply to open-office areas, too, or any common shared space with your coworkers.

  • Don’t eat foods with strong smells at your desk; while a dish with tuna and onions may taste great, it might not be such a pleasant experience for your neighbor, one desk over
  • Watch your volume when you’re speaking on the phone with someone, and avoid conference calls
  • If you need to speak with a group of people, don’t hold a meeting around your desk area; instead, take it to a conference room
  • Keep group socializing to common areas, so you don’t distract your co-workers


Different people will have different priorities. A worker may have a critical project that needs to get done today, while their neighbor two desks over may have just finished his major task. Understandably, the employee who’s hard at work will likely feel the slightest bit of irritation when he’s sitting at his desk and others are having a chat-fest six feet away.

A space management tool can alleviate the situation by showing the worker what rooms are available for him to work in for the time being. When a person needs a quieter space, they can use the tool to find a place where they can complete their work without any interruptions.


Some workers in hoteling offices may favor certain desks over others. To discourage others from sitting there, they might leave a personal item on the desk overnight. In a seating model that’s supposed to encourage flexibility and more equality between staff members, this sort of power grab can lead to a lot of bad blood.

FM software can prevent these problems by providing a formal reservation system. Instead of leaving the desks up to the mercy of whoever wants them, the office will have a program that will control the booking process. Workers will make reservations through a facilities manager or admin, ensuring that no space will be possessed by any one person for more than a day.

office conversation

Unnecessary questions

We’ve all had that coworker at one time or another. The one who asks things that they could easily find out on their own initiative. They may interrupt their coworkers and ask them how to find certain things, like an open conference room. Then they may proceed to ask whether the conference room is reserved for the day, whether it has a television, how many people can sit there, etc.

A worker can easily learn these things by using a feature like OfficeSpace Software’s Visual Directory®. The directory will let workers see where conference rooms are located, and what specific resources the rooms contain—such as what sort of technology the room has and how many seats are available.

office advice

Hogging the copier

While it may be a rare day when someone has to make a hundred copies, that doesn’t mean problems won’t arise when that day finally comes. What happens when someone is using the copier for that very reason, and another worker only needs to make a copy of a three-page document?

If that office has the right software installed, the other person can simply look up the locations of all the different equipment in the company. So when that machine keeps on humming and churning out reams of paper, all a worker has to do is use the FM software to look for a different copier. Crisis avoided.

FM software has many uses that can solve problems for an office—whether that’s providing an easy solution for managing moves, or even just helping keep the peace in the office. Considering its versatility, such a program would make a great addition to the infrastructure of any large company.

Annoying habits

Diane Gottsman wrote an article for The Huffington Post about some of the irritating personality types found in the office. Some of them include:

“Enough about you, let’s talk about me”

This person likes to talk about themselves. A lot. No matter the topic, and no matter the environment, they add substance to a conversation by talking about their experiences, but not necessarily value. To break this habit, they should take a minute to think about whether what they’re saying adds value to the conversation.

The chronically short on supplies

For some reason, this type cannot keep track of their own office supplies, so they often ask to borrow everyone else’s, which they may then proceed to lose, too. Items borrowed may range from a pair of scissors to some spare change for the vending machine. People with a tendency to borrow but not return items should write notes to themselves reminding what they borrowed and from whom.

The Debbie downer

This person has a “the sun will come out probably never” sort of attitude. Because of their constant negativity, their coworkers regard them the same way—negatively. Sticking to pleasantries is a good antidote to this habit.

Keep the peace with FM software

When it comes to office life, it’s only natural that some problems will arise when people with different habits, different work styles, and different preferences are all placed under the same roof. Sometimes, the best way to address problems is by encouraging workers to be respectful and communicate openly with each other. At other times, there’s a more subtle tool that workers can use to deal with problem coworkers: FM software. It can make a worker’s life easier by solving several problems that occur every day in the office.

Photo credit: theloushe, Bruce Mars, rawpixel, Jopwell


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